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Lambrusco

Lambrusco is the symbol of the Emilia region and of socialisation, and has been known since ancient times. "Spiced, fragrant, sparkling with golden bubbles", was how Pope Sixtus V's doctor described it in 1567 as he travelled through the Emilian Apennines between Reggio Emilia and Modena, the vine's historic terroir. However, its origins are even older and have been mentioned in the writings of Virgil, Cato, Varro and Pliny the Elder. Whether sweet or dry, sparkling or semi-sparkling, it originates from a group of wild black grapes that have the same characteristics as the wines they produce: low alcohol, fragrant, fresh and fizzy. There are five different types: Sorbara, Reggiano, Salamino, Grasparossa di Castelvetro and Mantovano, which is the only variant produced outside Emilia. Today more and more winemakers, heirs of ancient traditions and far from the big commercial productions, are rediscovering its origins, producing consistent and important Lambrusco wines, but always characterised by that drinkable lightness that has made them famous throughout the world. The pleasantness of its bubbles, however, is not limited to the pairing with sliced meats and fried gnocco, but lends itself to much more original and artistic uses, as evidenced by Luciano Pavarotti's sparkling toasts around the world, the corks flying into the sky at every victory of Enzo Ferrari's famous red car and the audacity of Luciano Ligabue's pairing with popcorn.

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Lambrusco is the symbol of the Emilia region and of socialisation, and has been known since ancient times. "Spiced, fragrant, sparkling with golden bubbles", was how Pope Sixtus V's doctor described it in 1567 as he travelled through the Emilian Apennines between Reggio Emilia and Modena, the vine's historic terroir. However, its origins are even older and have been mentioned in the writings of Virgil, Cato, Varro and Pliny the Elder. Whether sweet or dry, sparkling or semi-sparkling, it originates from a group of wild black grapes that have the same characteristics as the wines they produce: low alcohol, fragrant, fresh and fizzy. There are five different types: Sorbara, Reggiano, Salamino, Grasparossa di Castelvetro and Mantovano, which is the only variant produced outside Emilia. Today more and more winemakers, heirs of ancient traditions and far from the big commercial productions, are rediscovering its origins, producing consistent and important Lambrusco wines, but always characterised by that drinkable lightness that has made them famous throughout the world. The pleasantness of its bubbles, however, is not limited to the pairing with sliced meats and fried gnocco, but lends itself to much more original and artistic uses, as evidenced by Luciano Pavarotti's sparkling toasts around the world, the corks flying into the sky at every victory of Enzo Ferrari's famous red car and the audacity of Luciano Ligabue's pairing with popcorn.

The Production of Lambrusco

Lambrusco wine is named after the vines of the same name, traditionally widespread in the Emilia region, with some variants also present in the Tuscan Apennines. This region is the symbol of this drink, which is rightly one of its most famous specialities.

The most classic and widespread type is the semi-sparkling Lambrusco wine, which has a moderate alcohol content and is incredibly versatile, and can be perfectly paired with many local foods and even famous international dishes. Traditionally, it is produced by spontaneous re-fermentation in the bottle, while today the practice of fermentation using the Charmat or Martinotti method in steel is more widespread, as it guarantees impeccable aromatic cleanliness and the absence of residues in the bottle. The adoption of either of these two practices today establishes whether producers belong to the ranks of the traditionalists or the modernists, even if today's wineries tend to diversify their production and at the same time produce more pleasant, easy-drinking wines as well as richer, more rustic and more sophisticated bottles with re-fermentation in the bottle.

In the sparkling version, which is less widespread but equally present throughout Emilia, it is produced following a second fermentation that allows the production of carbon dioxide and the famous bubbles that enhance its freshness and liveliness.

Different Expressions in the Territory

There are different clones and variants of this vine. The most widespread in the province of Modena and Reggio Emilia is Salamino di Santa Croce, whose name evokes the characteristic shape of the bunches of grapes, particularly fruity and floral, from which a semi-dry nectar is obtained, rich in freshness, body and good tannins.

Lambrusco di Sorbara, named after the town in the province of Modena, is drier, fresher and more subtle, and is characterised by its light pink colour.

Grasparossa di Castelvetro is also a prestigious variety, produced in the province of Modena, which is purplish red in colour with an intense foam and often has a sweetish taste. For many, it is the best red Lambrusco to enjoy in its directness, given its intense, harmonious flavour, lively froth, and scent of ripe grapes

The Maestri in the province of Parma is also famous for its intense, semi-sparkling and slightly sweet body. The Reggiano variety originates from the Reggio Emilia area, while the only variety from Lombardy is the Mantovano.

Food Pairings and Serving Suggestions

Lambrusco wine, in all its variants from rosé to ruby, is excellent for a wide range of occasions, and preserves the cheerful and festive character typical of the region in which it is grown and produced. Precisely for this reason, it goes well with various dishes from its area and in the most diverse contexts and moments of the day, from aperitif time to first courses based on pasta and cured meats, right up to the end with desserts and chocolate for its sweet and lovable qualities.

These Italian wines are best served with typical local dishes, such as the classic tortellini and the famous cured meats that characterise the region's cuisine: hams, salami, coppa, pork crackling and bacon accompanied by gnocco fritto (fried dumplings). But that's not all, given the growing popularity lately of rather experimental combinations, such as those with Indian and Oriental cuisine in Italy and abroad.

These are products that go perfectly with fatty dishes, such as pasta with meat sauce and cold cuts. They are an unmissable gem in the treasure chest of Emilia Romagna red wines, excellent with pasta and lasagne alla Bolognese and sometimes used to enhance roasts and grilled meats as well. 

Different types of Lambrusco

  • Dry Lambrusco: has very little residual sugar, resulting in a crisp and refreshing taste
  • Sweet Lambrusco: more residual sugar, making it noticeably sweeter
  • Sparkling Lambrusco: fully sparkling with high carbonation, similar to Champagne or Prosecco
  • Semi-Sparkling Lambrusco: lightly sparkling with moderate carbonation, providing a gentle fizz

The Best Lambrusco Producers

  • Ariola: Tradition and Innovation in the Heart of Val di Parma
  • Ermete Medici: Crafting World-Class Lambrusco from Reggio Emilia
  • Cleto Chiarli: Pioneers of Quality Lambrusco in the Modenese Hills
  • Cantine Ceci: Elevating Emilian Lambrusco to New Heights

No matter which wine you prefer, only on Callmewine you will be able to find, together with the greatest Italian and international wines, Lambrusco for sale online at affordable prices and on special offer.